By Elliott Simpson | BA English, Stage 3
The businesswoman sat at the table with a black coffee. The café was empty apart from her and the waitress, who had spent the last twenty minutes aimlessly humming. The minotaur was late. Like always. The businesswoman wasn’t sure if it was part of his mythology, or if he was just a bit of an asshole. Probably the latter.
Half an hour past the agreed time, the Minotaur came through the door. He smiled at the businesswoman showing a set of yellow teeth the size of piano keys. She did not smile back. He had shaved some of the hair from his face, as if in an attempt to make himself look more human. His horns had also been cut down to stumps. These features – combined with the overwhelming smell of aftershave – made him more unappealing to the businesswoman than ever before.
‘How are you?’ he said, taking a seat.
‘And how’s work?’
‘Work’s work.’ She sipped her coffee. ‘It’s just convincing people to buy things they don’t need.’
‘Your kind have always been good at persuasion.’
‘What do you want?’
The minotaur’s face reddened. ‘Well, y’see… I’ve got an investment opportunity.’
‘No. I’ve heard this pitch from you too many times before. Look, Minos, I’m not investing in a bloody labyrinth. You come to me with this shit every other week, and every time I give you the same answer.’ She shook her head. ‘I gave you too much credit, thinking you might have called me here for something else. I thought you might at least ask me for a job – or just bring up something that isn’t a complete waste of time.’
The minotaur cleared his throat. ‘Well, the thing about labyrinths is–’
‘They pay for themselves, yes, you’ve said that before.’
‘There’s potential for thousands of tourists every month…’
‘No, Minos. No. Do you really think someone is going to give you planning permission to build a bloody labyrinth in South Devon? It’s like you just…’ The sound of approaching footsteps caused her to pause. The waitress stopped at the table and stared at them both, one after another, with a blank smile.
‘Can I get you guys anything?’
‘No thanks,’ said the businesswoman.
The Minotaur snatched up the drinks menu and flicked through it. ‘Do you serve beer here?’
‘Sorry, no,’ said the waitress.
‘Any sort of alcohol?’
‘This is a café, sir.’
‘Yes, of course. Can I get a mocha then?’ After the waitress was gone, he turned back to the businesswoman. ‘I need this, Daphne. I need this labyrinth. I’m a goddamn Minotaur – what else is there for me to do? Who’s going to give me a job when I look like this?’
‘Heard of equal opportunities? Someone will hire you.’
The Minotaur huffed, sending the napkins on the table flying. ‘Do you just expect me to go down to the seafront and get a job selling fish and chips? Is that all I’m worth?’
‘I don’t care what you do, honestly.’
‘And how can you just sell out, working for a big company? It isn’t who you are.’
‘Yes, it is. I am who I want to be.’
‘You’re a siren.’
‘No, I’m not.’ The businesswoman swallowed the last of her lukewarm coffee. ‘Do you know what my ancestors did for a living? They sat on rocks, flaunted their tits, and waited for some poor sap to crash his ship. Why would I want to do that? Why – when I have a steady income, a nice house, and a good life?’
‘Look, I just need a few thousand pounds to get started, and–’
‘So you can chase strangers around a giant maze? Listen to yourself, Minos, for God’s sake.’
The Minotaur cleared his throat. ‘In a survey conducted in 2011, 79% of people said that they would visit a labyrinth if–’
‘I’m done.’ The businesswoman slammed a £20 note down on the table. ‘This should cover the cost of the drinks, plus a few beers at the pub. Don’t contact me again.’
After she left, the Minotaur sat in silence. A few minutes later the waitress came over with his drink. ‘Where’s your friend gone?’ she said.
The waitress, seemingly satisfied with this answer, left him alone. The Minotaur blew on his mocha and then sipped it.
He needed a proper drink.